I'm Not Going To Lie, Growing Up Awkward Made Me F*cking Awesome

by Gigi Engle

I’m not going to lie: I’m pretty f*cking awesome.

I think there are certain things that make someone awesome. Awesome is not a term that should be thrown out frivolously.

It’s about your character, your very nature, the very core of your being. It’s about how genuine you are and how well you know yourself. It’s about confidence -- true, glorious, fabulous, confidence.

Confidence does not just magically appear. It is created. It is grown and nurtured. It takes work.

Nothing can give you a good old lesson in Confidence 101 like growing up awkward. I don’t mean just a regular kid who is uncomfortable in his or her own skin. Everyone went through that.

I mean really, really f*cking awkward.

Allow me to paint a little picture of younger Gigi because I give no f*cks.

I was short, pimply, fat (not just chubby, fat) and had a haircut that was a traumatizing mix between Velma from “Scooby-Doo” and John Travolta's drag character in “Hairspray.”

To give you an even more comprehensive visual: I was literally cast as Augustus Gloop in our middle school version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

In conclusion, it was not good.

As you can imagine, growing up laden with such devastating aesthetics led to a pretty rough existence throughout my youth. I was the constant target of bullying.

For some, these kinds of events in the early years of life can be destructive and life-ruining, but for me, they made me stronger.

And they made me AWESOME.

For all my fellow, awkward middle schoolers, this one is for you. Embrace the weird.

I have no shame.

If there is one thing growing up a weirdo will teach you it's how to give zero f*cks.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am without a doubt completely, totally and unapologetically shameless. For God's sake, I’ve written articles about my sh*tting habits.

I spent too much time being judged to care about judgment. If you waste energy caring about what people think of you, you’ll never fully realize your potential for greatness.

What’s more is I’ve realized the coolest people gravitate toward authenticity, and I am certainly authentic.

I have no fear of rejection.

In middle school, I was never one of the “cool” girls. I was chubby and had China-chopped bangs.

I wasn’t, as Janis Ian put it in “Mean Girls,” a “regulation hottie.” I was more like a Snack Pack stuffed inside a smocked dress.

Therefore, I know what it feels like to be rejected.

The thing is when you spend your early years as an awkward youngster, you stop caring about rejection. It stops stinging.

I learned to just go for whatever I wanted because if I didn’t get it, there would always be an opportunity for some other cool thing in the future. I learned to try, to jump headfirst because I didn’t have anything to lose.

I don’t judge.

Over the years, I have compiled quite the band of misfits as a friend group. My friends are comfortable coming to me about anything because they know I don’t judge.

Hey, I’ve done some, at best, questionable, at worst, terrible things in my day. Who am I to judge what anyone else does?

After so many years of constantly being berated for everything I did as a kid, I’m really over treating people with judgment.

What good does it serve to belittle someone for his or her mistakes? It doesn’t help him or her nor does it help you.

All it does is strain the bonds you have with your fellow compatriots. All we can do is support each other and try to help each other.

I actually accept compliments.

I take compliments as genuine no matter who it is that offers them. They genuinely make me blush. I guess it’s due to the fact that I wasn’t used to receiving them.

I still smile whenever someone says something sweet to me.

I don’t wonder if the compliment was meant to have some catty, other meaning because I don’t have the energy to devote to something someone says to me.

I feel the same way when someone says something rude to me. I just accept it and move on to the next thing. I would drown if I let words stick to me and weigh me down.

I’m not afraid to make ridiculous jokes.

I have a gross, bizarre, anti-PC sense of humor, and I don’t care who knows it.

I’m not afraid of offending you. If you can’t handle my jokes, feel free to remove yourself. I’m not going to censor myself to make you feel comfortable.

When you’re a weird kid, you get used to only finding yourself funny. You become accustomed to making jokes for only your benefit.

You start to find the humor in everything. The greatest of comedy comes from the blackest of places, after all.

As you get older, you hone that lack of comedic boundary and develop it into a real, sarcastic, cutthroat wit that leaves others spellbound.

I don’t take myself too seriously, and I’ll never take you too seriously. Life is too short to water down the funny.

I don't take sh*t from anyone.

I know how to stand up for myself. I had to learn how to fend off the middle school hyenas, clad in their Abercrombie short-shorts and Wet Seal tank tops from the get go.

I became a lioness, and I have grown into my skin. I don’t take crap from anyone. I don’t shy away and hide.

I’ve learned the best way to handle yourself is with strength. The hyenas will flounder once they realize you are anything but prey.

I still don’t rely on my looks.

Nor do I care about other people’s looks. I grew up a chunky, poorly dressed, bad-skinned kid with an absurd haircut.

Instead of peaking in the seventh grade like many of my fellow classmates, I spent my younger years developing a personality.

I always wished I could be one of the pretty girls who all the boys chased after. I didn’t have the looks to cushion me, so I had to use my sense of humor and my brain.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve truly come to realize looks are shallow, they fade. Personality only grows, and it will carry you to the finish line and leave the other kids in the dust.

I know who my friends are.

I can tell who the good people are because I’ve always had to weed them out. As an adult, I feel like I have the coolest friends ever because everyone knows it’s the freaks who end up being the most interesting people.

The fake folks showed their true colors very early in the game. The strange people I jived with stuck it out. I know what I value in a friend, and my friends know what they value about me.

I have a lot of empathy.

I can fit in with a lot of different people. I can relate to individuals of all races, creeds and backgrounds. I am an understanding person who is empathetic to the struggle.

I didn’t grow up underprivileged or marginalized, but I relate to those who did. I was an awkward kid, and the awkward kids always stick together.

We build each other up when the world wants to tear us down.

I know exactly who I am.

I have a very strong sense of self that has been forged out of years of going against the grain. I don’t believe in conformity. I don’t believe in trends.

I just am who I am. If you can’t get down with my vibes, you don’t have to chill with me. I will never feel the need to act like anyone other than myself.

Sure, I’m a weirdo, but guess what? I love being weird.